Do I need a passport or visa to enter?
To enter El Salvador by air or sea, U.S. citizens must present a current U.S. passport and either a Salvadoran visa or a one-entry tourist card. There is neither a requirement for the U.S. passport to be valid for a specific period of time nor for it to have a specific number of blank pages. The tourist card may be obtained from Salvadoran immigration officials for a $10.00 USD fee upon arrival in El Salvador at an airport or seaport. U.S. travelers who plan to remain in El Salvador for more than 30 days can apply in advance for a multiple entry visa, issued free of charge, from the Embassy of El Salvador in Washington, D.C. or from one of the 16 Salvadoran consulates in the United States:
Coral Gables, FL
Las Vegas, NV
Los Angeles, CA
New York , NY
San Francisco, CA
Santa Ana, CA
Travelers may contact the Embassy of El Salvador at 1400 16th Street NW, Suite 100, Washington, DC 20036, telephone 1-202-595-7500, fax 1-202-232-3763, or visit the Embassy of El Salvador web site (Spanish language only).
When applying for a visa, travelers may be asked to present evidence of U.S. employment and adequate finances for their visit at the time of visa application or upon arrival in El Salvador. For passengers departing by air or sea, El Salvador has an exit tax, which is usually included in the price of the airline ticket.
In June 2006, El Salvador entered into the “Central America-4 (CA-4) Border Control Agreement” with Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Under the terms of the agreement, citizens of the four countries may travel freely across land borders from one of the countries to any of the others without completing entry and exit formalities at immigration checkpoints. U.S. citizens and other eligible foreign nationals, who legally enter any of the four countries, may similarly travel among the four without obtaining additional visas or tourist entry permits for the other three countries. Immigration officials at the first port of entry determine the length of stay, up to a maximum period of 90 days.
Foreign tourists who wish to remain in the four country region beyond the period initially granted for their visit must request a one-time extension of stay from local immigration authorities in the country where the traveler is physically present, or they must leave the CA-4 countries and reapply for admission to the region. Foreigners “expelled” from any of the four countries are excluded from the entire CA-4 region. In isolated cases, the lack of clarity in the implementing details of the CA-4 Border Control Agreement has caused temporary inconvenience to some travelers and has resulted in others being fined more than $100.00 USD or being detained in custody for 72 hours or longer.
Airlines operating out of El Salvador International Airport require all U.S. citizen passengers boarding flights for the United States (including U.S.-Salvadoran dual nationals) to have a current U.S. passport. Please be aware that you may not enter the United States using a Certificate of Naturalization or a Certificate of Citizenship. All U.S. citizens must possess a valid U.S. passport or other acceptable travel document to enter the United States. You may determine which documents are needed to enter the United States via land, sea, or air at the Department of Homeland Security web site.
U.S. citizens applying for passports at the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador are reminded that proof of citizenship and identity are required before a passport can be issued. Photographic proof of identity is especially important for young children because of the high incidence of fraud involving children. Since non-emergency passports are printed in the United States, and not at the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador, citizens submitting applications in El Salvador should be prepared to wait approximately 10 business days for receipt of their new passports. Please visit the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador website to schedule an appointment for passport services.
The U.S. Embassy in El Salvador reminds U.S. citizen travelers that their activities in El Salvador are governed by Salvadoran law and the type of visa they are issued. Under Salvadoran law, all foreigners who participate directly or indirectly in the internal political affairs of the country (e.g. political rallies, demonstrations, or protests) may lose the right to remain in El Salvador, regardless of their visa status or residency in El Salvador.
For any questions concerning U.S. visas for either temporary travel to or permanent residence in the United States, please contact the U.S. Visa Information Service for El Salvador. Live bilingual customer service representatives are available by calling 503-2113-3122 or 503-2113-3130 between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. CST on weekdays, and between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. CST on Saturdays and most holidays. Callers in the United States may call 1-703-745-5476, and long distance charges may apply. To reach a customer service representative via email, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Emergency cases will be referred directly to the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador by the customer service representative for appropriate action after the person has contacted the Visa Information Center.
Volunteers, Mission Groups, and Non-Profits: Groups bringing donated supplies, equipment, and medicine may experience difficulties with customs. To avoid potential problems, all donated material should be cleared with the appropriate office well before traveling to El Salvador.